In my coaching sessions, I often hear stories of corporate professionals struggling with public speaking or speaking up in meetings. Some of these individuals associate this inability with incidents that happened to them during their school years.
The incidents are very varied and include being bullied by other kids at school, being reprimanded in public by teachers for not mingling and interacting with other kids, being laughed at or perceived to be humiliated by other kids or teachers for any number of reasons such as never raising hands to answer questions or volunteer for activities, not wanting to speak up in groups etc.
Our school environment plays a huge role in shaping our character and developing our personality.
Introverts are people who gain their energy by spending time in solitude, focusing more on their thoughts, feelings, and moods rather than external stimulation. While extroverts are the opposite and love to spend time with other people and they draw their energy by being with other people. Ambiverts are people who show strengths and characteristics of both introversion and extroversion.
Everyone is naturally wired like this.
And for this reason, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Introverts being quiet.
In fact, there are several world-famous individuals who are known to be introverts: Bill Gates, Marissa Mayer, Warren Buffet, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Meryl Streep, Steve Wozniak and J K Rowling to name but a few! Nearly 30-40% of world population are introverts and these individuals are testimony to the fact that being an introvert does not stop anyone from achieving success or being famous.
So how should introvert kids be dealt with in schools?
Teachers should be able to recognize these traits from the early days; parents can also inform teachers about their children’s personality.
Note that introvert children can be very attentive in class. Acknowledge that they prefer to listen than participate.Gently encourage them to participate if they are not already participating.If they do not want to, on a particular day, acknowledge that publicly (“I understand you don’t want to talk now, that is perfectly fine. Let me know when you are ready. If you wish to, please write the answer down and show it to me. Let us give a round of applause to …”) and move to the next child in the class.
Understand that introvert children would prefer to have 1:1 conversation. So make a point of finding some extra time to spend with them and appreciate them for what they do on their own or acknowledge them if they did speak up. This would enable them to flourish and make them feel that they get the same attention as other kids.
Help other children understand the nature of extroverts and introverts and encourage them to support the introverts. Bullying in any form should be strongly discouraged and not just in the case of introverts; but it is even more important in their case.
Remember that introverts are not necessarily shy. Extroverts can be shy too. So take care not brand an introvert child as a shy individual.
In short, appreciate children for who they are and create a school environment that nurtures them according to their personalities and enables them to thrive.
Author: Johncey George is an International Coaching Federation certified Leadership and Life Coach. He focuses on working with Introvert Professionals, helping them grow as leaders by unleashing their potential.
He helps introverts celebrate their strengths and become successful as leaders. Being an introvert himself, he understands their thinking process. He combines this knowledge, his corporate leadership experience and his coaching experience to help create more leaders among the Introverts.
Johncey has 23 years of corporate leadership experience and done his BE and Management Education from IIM Bangalore, Harvard Business School, ISB Hyderabad.
His company, Johncey George Consulting Pvt Ltd, does Leadership Development through Coaching, under the brand Coach Johncey (www.coachjohncey.com)